By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
A very well-meaning comrade called me a pluriversal Marxist with a wild smile full of English irony, while chairing my book release function in the Marx Memorial Library, London. I dedicate this piece to her…
There is no other philosopher who is more abused and misunderstood like Marx. There is no other philosophy like Marxism which is more demonised on a regular basis. The mindless vilification campaign against Marx and Marxism continues without any form of reason. The propaganda and portrayal of Marxism as a devilish doctrine signify its importance as a philosophy of human emancipation from the very forces who demonise it.
Marxism is a philosophy of praxis which helps us to understand the centrality of creative power of labour in producing socially meaningful value. It helps us to analyse the laws governing production, distribution, consumption, exchange, market, profit, pricing and private property in the development of class-based society.
As a humanist philosophy, Marxism helps to understand the processes of history of class formation, mass alienation and class conflict. It informs us the subjective and objective conditions, and causes of inequalities, exploitation and injustice. Many distractors of Marx have tried to reduce Marx as a European philosopher and Marxism as the European philosophy.
But for Marx, ‘no human is alien’. Marx was writing for the emancipation of every human being in the planet. Marxism is not only a critique of capitalist system but also offers alternative systems based on compassion, humanism, equality, justice, freedom and democracy. Provincializing Marx and Marxism is not possible. He is the first philosopher from Europe who moved away from the dominance of the Cartesian dualism within European knowledge traditions and revolutionised it with dialectics.
The dialectical knowledge traditions are based on differentiation which moves away from the narrow silos of casual analysis and focuses on the conditions or relationships between different factors of history, economics, politics, culture, religion, traditions, science and secularism. The dialectical knowledge tradition accommodates contradictions, diversities, debates, discourses, dilemmas, opposition and negations based on different contexts.
In this way, the dialectical tradition in Marxism is fundamentally opposed to the dualities of European knowledge traditions and its universalizing tendencies during and after colonialism. ‘The knowledge that is emanating from Europe is science whereas African, Asian and American knowledge traditions are ethnography.
European knowledge is reason and other knowledge traditions are mystic, cultural and religious beliefs’. Such bogus dualities of distinction within Eurocentric knowledge traditions are not only reductionist but also racist.
The European colonialism has universalised its knowledge traditions based on Descartean duality by silencing multiple knowledge traditions within and outside western Europe. It is within this context, one needs to engage with issues of class consciousness, class organisation and class struggle from the Marxist perspectives by moving away from the narrow silos of dualities.
The dynamism of capital and its global system has created conditions where the concept of ‘class’ is very different from the concept of ‘class and class-based’ exploitation during nineteenth century. There are different layers of class-based exploitation in twenty first century.
These exploitative layers are based on gender, sexuality, race, religious and linguistic marginalisation. These multiple and overlapping forms of exploitations, violence and oppressions are not independent from each other but intersect with each other within a capitalist system.
Capitalism has used these layers as fragmented fault lines to divide and demonise class-based politics of emancipation. Therefore, the emancipatory politics of intersectionality needs to be inclusive and engage with the pre-existing conditions of unequal social, economic political, religious, regional and cultural relations shaping production and reproduction within different forms of capitalism. It is significant to look at different contemporary issues in historical terms and locate inherently exploitative systems promoted by capitalism.
A pluriversal Marxist is not an intersectional Marxist. Intersectionality helps to understand multiple and overlapping forms of exploitation and oppression. It helps to understand different layers of violence under capitalist system embedded with reactionary social, cultural, political, religious and economic forces.
For a successful mass struggle, pluriversal Marxism needs to engage with specific conditions and understand different layers of capitalism
However, the politics of intersectionality ignores pre-existing social relations and economic conditions that continue to exist and accelerated by capitalist system. The politics of mere representation is not radical enough to change these unequal conditions in the society.
The intersectionalists attempt to find answer within capitalism. Reform and not revolution is their moto. In this way, the intersectionalists reproduce different forms of inequalities. Intersectionalists have failed to offer any alternatives and failed to create sites of struggles for alternatives.
The de-radicalisation is an inadvertent outcome of libertarian and liberal intersectionality as a political approach to emancipatory struggles. Therefore, for a successful mass struggle, pluriversal Marxism needs to engage with specific conditions and understand different layers, structures and institutions of capitalism and its reactionary culture in different spheres of life in a class-based capitalist society.
Pluriversal Marxist means embracing all in our planet where all live-in harmony with nature and with each other. It means solidarity of all marginalised voices in the world to ensure shared peace, prosperity and non-discriminatory coexistence with equal access to resources.
Pluriversal Marxism questions all forms of dominant narratives, power relations, institutions and structured established by capitalism and its undemocratic customs and traditions. Pluriversal consciousness helps Marxism in establishing co-relationship between multiple forms of existence within a mode of dialectical thought that is inclusive in spirit and actions.
It helps Marxism to move beyond its myopic linearity, empiricist tendencies and functionalist formalisms. It is important to understand pluriversal nature of the capitalist world to struggle for another world free from all forms of exploitation, inequalities, oppressions and violence. A pluriversal Marxism can only establish and intersect diverse issues and multiple conditions within a thread of solidarity for a radical emancipatory future.
*University of Glasgow, UK
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